As part of the Arts and Crafts movement, furniture made of oak with simple lines and minimal embellishment was extremely popular in America during the first quarter of the 20th century. The style was named "Mission" during its heyday since it was supposedly based on furniture found in the Franciscan missions in California. This type of furniture is also referenced as Mission Oak from time to time, since it was most often crafted of oak wood, and also as "Craftsman" style.
Characteristics of Mission Furniture:
The distinctive characteristics of Mission style furniture, popular from about 1900 through 1925, are easy to recognize. Lines will be simple and straight for the most part, with very few curves and no ornate carving. Any carving usually takes the shape of inconspicuous linear grooves. Elements are most often chunky and flat or squared. The overall look is heavy, and some see it as quite masculine.
The squared leg was the norm for Mission furniture and decorative feet were rarely used. Any foot present, on a pedestal dining table for instance, is usually block or modified block in style. Chair and settee backs usually have a series of horizontal boards, also known as stiles, across the area where the back would rest.
Many chairs, including rockers, had leather seats.
While Mission pieces in general may have exposed pegs or tenon ends, decorative elements are very much kept to a minimum in the tradition of Arts & Crafts styling. Brasses and hinges used were very basic, but they do add a distinctive touch of flair to desks and sideboards.
The wood used in Mission furniture was oak in most cases. Colors vary from piece to piece and maker to maker, but they are often light to medium in finish and many have darkened with age.